September 21, 2014

‘Barracuda’ by Christos Tsiolkas

Posted on September 19, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Deep into Christos Tsiolkas’ Barracuda (Hogarth), Danny, the novel’s angry gay protagonist, returns to his native Australia and has a conversation with his brother. “I could have had a future,” he tells Theo as he looks back at his young life. The words could have been an apt subtitle to the book: Barracuda; or I Could Have Had a Future. Yet in the end, the novelisn’t quite as pessimistic as it might originally seem. While there is no false optimism as we are pulled through Danny’s bleak adolescence into his early adulthood, Tsiolkas does offer a quiet yet clear redemption. Hope is earned, even if in a minor key. (more…)

‘Kicker’s Journey’ by Lois Cloarec Hart

Posted on September 18, 2014 by in Reviews, Romance

Canadian author Lois Cloarec Hart claims to be an accidental author. But her latest rich, opulent period piece set in Victorian England and the Canadian “Wild West” demonstrates that readers are all the better for the circumstances which prompted this gifted author to take up ink and pen. (more…)

‘The Road to Emmaus’ by Spencer Reece

Posted on September 17, 2014 by in Poetry, Reviews

The electrifying self-reveal has long been a favorite trick of the gods. An amiable companion on horseback uncloaks himself as Odin, deity of wisdom, poetry, and victory in battle; in Genesis, Jacob rises from a wrestling match to find the challenger was Yahweh in human form. And on The Road to Emmaus, as depicted in a garish postcard in Sister Ann’s office, where Spencer Reece’s speaker remembers his older mentor and would-be lover in the title poem of his latest collection, two travelers from Jerusalem are joined by a third, who listens intently to a description of their savior before revealing himself as Christ. (more…)

How Everett Maroon Turned Me Into an Unintentional YA Fan

Posted on September 16, 2014 by in Interviews, Young Adult

I imagine it is bad form to start off talking about a book by bad-mouthing its genre, but I felt the need to disclose, if only to emphasize how damn good Everett Maroon’s new young adult novel is: I don’t much care for YA. Well, at least I thought I didn’t. Let me explain. (more…)

‘Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man’ by Thomas Page McBee

Posted on September 15, 2014 by in Bio/Memoir, Reviews

Thomas Page McBee’s Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man is not a memoir—though, in all likelihood, it will often be characterized as such, in a testament to both the limits of cultural understandings of nonfiction and of transgender storytelling. In reality, Man Alive is a gem of creative nonfiction, and an excellent example of what distinguishes that often nebulous genre. As Lee Gutkind, one of the explicators of the form, explains on the site for his journal, Creative Nonfiction: (more…)

‘The Paying Guests’ by Sarah Waters

Posted on September 14, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Earlier this year, when Lambda crowd-sourced #abooksavedmylife, one of the first books I thought of was Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet. Fourteen years ago, just before I started questioning my sexuality, I was having lunch with my best friend in New York City when she fished a battered copy of Tipping the Velvet out of her enormous purse and handed it to me. You, she said, her eyes bright, are going to love this book. As ever, she was right. (more…)

‘Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out’ by Susan Kuklin

Posted on September 11, 2014 by in Nonfiction, Reviews

Beyond Magenta is a collection of the real-life stories of six young transgender people in America, interviewed and photographed by Susan Kuklin. Most of the teens live in New York, with the exception of Luke, who is from Wisconsin. Some of the six are still in their teens, while others are out of their teens by a couple of years, telling the story of their youth. (more…)

‘Keepsake Self Storage’ by Marianne Banks

Posted on September 11, 2014 by in Fiction, Romance

The story of Keepsake Self Storage starts with a “body” floating down the Connecticut River. However, May Hammond is wrong about the ominous looking blob, as she finds out later when the police investigate to find a bag of old clothing. Nevertheless, a body-shaped bag of debris turns out to be a metaphor for the madness that ensues as the tale regresses into a madcap chain of events that sends all parties involved into tornado-like whirlwind of emotion and chaos, sweeping the characters up and spinning them out of control. (more…)

‘The Kills’ by Richard House

Posted on September 10, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Mistakes come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like the one Rem Gunnersen makes when he kidnaps a customer’s dog in a wrongheaded act of revenge, are small—relatively speaking. Others, like the United States’ military involvement in Iraq, are huge; they’re global in scope. Richard House’s novel The Kills is a chronicle of such mistakes and resultant disasters. What we learn quickly enough is that no matter what happens, no matter how enormous or egregious a mistake might be, there is always someone ready to turn what’s happened into an advantage. And all too often that person’s name is Paul Geezler. (more…)

‘Lincoln Avenue: Chicago Stories’ by Gregg Shapiro

Posted on September 9, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

It was with a bit of trepidation that I waded into Gregg Shapiro’s slim new volume, Lincoln Avenue: Chicago Stories (Squares & Rebels). It wasn’t the book’s quality that gave me pause, but its specificity—Chicago is a city that I’ve never visited and don’t know very much about. Luckily, while Shapiro’s wry and entertaining tales are deeply rooted in his hometown, they explore a geography that will be instantly recognizable to many of their readers: the inner life of young gay men growing up in the not-so-distant pre-Internet age. (more…)